Pyay - Exploring the Historical Land of Myanmar
by Blake Johnson Apr 16, 2017
Pyay (also known as Prome in colonial time) is a quiet and peaceful city on the eastern bank of Ayeyerwaddy River. It is between Yangon and Bagan; therefore, you can stop over in Pyay and later continue travelling to Bagan or Mandalay. Pyay ancient capital is an interesting place to visit because of its historical importance and archaeological sites. Here are our recommendations of attractive destinations in Pyay for your wonderful discovery.
What to Visit in Pyay?
This name maybe remind you about Shwesandaw Pagoda in Bagan, however, there are up to 4 pagodas sharing the name “Shwesandaw” in Myanmar, which is at Taungoo, Pyay, Twante and Bagan. In Burmese, “shwesandaw” means “golden hair relics”, which shows that all of these 4 pagodas enshrine Buddha’s sacred hairs.
In Pyay ancient capital, Shwesandaw Pagoda is situated on top of a hill in the town center and one of the biggest Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Myanmar. According to legend, it was built in 589 BC. The pagoda will cause your jaws to drop because of the height of over 90 meters. To reach the pagoda’s platform, you must take an elevator up. And from the back side of the pagoda, you can see wonderful views of the Sehtatgyi Buddha – a 10-storey-high seated Buddha statue rising up over the tree-line opposite.
Thayekhittaya (Sri Ksetra)
Located around 8 kilometers east of Pyay, the archeological sites Thayekhittaya was the capital of Pyu kingdom from the 5th to 9th centuries. Thayekhittaya is also known as the name of “Sri Ksetra”, meaning “City of Splendour”. Coming here, you will have chance to explore a number of tombs, palaces, pagodas and other religious sites such as brick-built Baw Baw Gyi Paya and Bebe Paya, antique pagoda Payagui, Rahanta Cave Pagoda, the Lay Myet Hna monument and the Royal Cemetery in this around 47-kilometer land.
To get this archeological museum, you can ride a bike, take a motorbike or a taxi from the center of Pyay. Moreover, Sri Ksetra has been declared one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Myanmar since 2014. It is well worth and wonderful as you spend only a half day for a fully explore.
Payagui and Bawbawgyi are two pagodas in original shape in this area. They are all simple, plain and entirely undecorated.
Payagui Pagoda is situated just outside the city wall to the northwest of Sri Ksetra ancient city in Pyay. It is one of the earliest pagodas of Myanmar built from 5th or 6th century AD by King Duttabaung. According to oral tradition and old chronicles, it is used to be called Sai Sai Pagoda (Slow Slow pagoda) because it was built slowly, and later become to be current name. Its structure looks like breast being slightly swollen, with some vegetation growing in the exposed bricks. Encircling it is a three terrace base. The pagoda retains its original size, shape and design until now. Noticeably, women are not allowed on the upper one.
To the south of Sri Ksetra, you can pay a visit to cylindrical Bawbawgyi Paya and cube-shaped Bebe Paya and explore its long time history.
Akauk Taung is a scenic destination on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River to the north of Pyay. One special thing here is that plenty of Buddha images have been carved into the cliff walls of the river bank. You can climb and pay a visit to a hilltop pagoda and monastery as well as see panoramic views of the Ayeyarwaddy River and the distant floodplains.
To get to Akauk Taung, you should hire a motorbike or take a taxi from Pyay to Htone Bo first, and then take about 30 minutes by boat ride to reach here. Following the river bank, across a series of cliffs, you will be impressed by the bigger carvings stretching for a long way and the peaceful, charmed scene on Ayeyarwaddy River.
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